Environmental Casualties of Trump’s Trade War | Sierra Club
Water pollution: By far the biggest casualty in Trump’s trade war is the soybean trade. China used to buy some 60 percent of the U.S. crop, but sales have plummeted since China’s imposition of retaliatory tariffs. Trump is trying to soften the blow to the politically powerful soybean industry by having U.S. taxpayers subsidize them to the tune of $3.6 billion.
An unexpected environmental effect of a drop in soybean production, according to a study by the Northeast Midwest Institute, could be increased nitrate pollution of drinking water sources. Nitrates enter the soil primarily as a result of fertilizers used on corn, but many farmers cycle it by also planting soybeans, which absorb the nitrates. No soybeans to absorb the nitrates, though, means more nitrate runoff into rivers and streams. As the price of U.S. soybeans plummets, it makes less sense for farmers to grow them. Subsequently, the nitrate pollution in source water will only continue to escalate.
Expensive solar panels: In January, even before the trade war really got going, the Trump administration imposed a 30 percent tariff on Chinese solar panels. That was followed in June by an additional 25 percent levy. The effect has not been enormous, given that many U.S. solar installers saw the writing on the wall and stockpiled cheap units in advance of the trade spat. Also, Chinese imports only represent about 10 percent of the solar market: Malaysia, South Korea, and Vietnam all have larger chunks of the pie. The Energy Information Administration projects that solar generation will increase by 23 percent this year over last.